Tonight I had the privilege of speaking at an RMDMA event and had an excellent time. We had business stakeholders from a variety of business models and we walked through a simple conceptual model for social media that I developed around five years ago. The model describes four distinct levels of an online relationship that you can have with your customers/potential customers.

  • Findable
  • Recommendable
  • Transparent
  • Collaborative

These were the subjects of my first four posts, 4 1/2 years ago. The concepts haven’t changed and what amazes me is how much the findable portion of this model has changed. There are now more ways for businesses to be found that ever before. Back in the day – as I like to say – it was various social outposts and now that number has become more concrete and yet more fragmented. We discussed the new Big Blue (also known as Facebook), Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Places, Facebook Places, LinkedIn and YouTube. Based on your business model and what you’re analytics tell you, you can get a pretty good sense of where you should be.

In time, as these elements are added to the search results mix, it’s easy to imagine that social search results will create powerful “branded” search results page. I also showed them a best case scenario for search what search results could be like for Vail. In time you’d have content from apps like Instagram, Twitter (after Google buys them) and Facebook (if they can get along), images from Pinterest, etc. Would make for a very dynamic SERP.

We then moved on to recommendation and I just realized, that I completely forgot my new favorite example of recommendation (via @hiroprot of @forkly), Bed in a Box. I don’t believe this company has spent anything on media buys, etc but have instead focused on creating an amazing product, that people love, and are willing to recommend. Recommendation of course works both ways and there is no escaping a substandard product.

Transparency simply means being honest about what you do and how you do it. (Just don’t get too personal and give away any trade secrets.) Unfortunately, this term usually has more to do with apologizing for something like Path’s recent misstep, which resulted in this decision from Apple today. This really is pretty easy but hard to communicate to your emlployees.

We then finished up reviewing the deepest part of the pool: collaboration. Many businesses are now bringing their customers in-house to let them shape the company. Icelantic Skis is a great example of a company doing this and actually allows customers in their First Tracks program to vote on artwork for the skis, participate in the monthly company conference call and attend the company retreats. Amazing! There is also a great platform called UserVoice that allows companies to partner with their customers.

Please feel free to download the PPT here and I would also recommend adding a book to the list that I recommended last night. Trust Agents by Chris Brogan is a great resource.